Riding on safety: S.A. bicyclists make a stand on dangers

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by Mat Garcia / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @matgarcia5

kens5.com

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 10:05 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 8:50 AM

It was an incredible display Sunday morning as hundreds of cyclists hit the road for one cause in northwest San Antonio.

You'd think they were riding to raise awareness about the growing sport, but actually they were riding 20 miles for one woman: a triathlete whose horrific accident has become a symbol for change.

"I had a lot of things going for me. Now, I have to take a step back. Why? That's not fair!" said Monica Caban.

Caban spoke exclusively with KENS 5 about her accident two Saturday's ago.

She told us from her hospital bed that the crash left her paralyzed from the waist down.

"He was very blunt and said, 'Monica, after looking at your x-ray, I'm going to go high on this and say you have less than one percent of ever walking again,'" Caban recalled.

What's so devastating about this story is that at 39 years old, Caban was in the best shape of her life.  She finished the Florida Ironman last year.

On October 20, the mother of two was riding on the I-10 access road near Fair Oaks Parkway, training with a friend for the Arizona Ironman to be held in November.

When a truck hit her from behind, it crushed her bike and threw her 30 feet, severing her spine.

"Literally, she and I were talking and the next thing you know I hear a huge crash," said Caban.

Now, as Caban recovers at University Hospital, the biking community has rallied behind her.
They're supporting her with prayer, food and calls for change.

On the same day of her crash, we just so happened to be shooting a group of 50 riders getting their take on bike safety in San Antonio.

Don Losole is the ride lead for the bicycle club at Life Time Fitness.

"It's scary when you ride out here. They really don't care about us as cyclists. They really look at us as a nuisance on the road," said Losole.

San Antonio cyclist Heather Trevino said, "I've had people yell and scream at us to see if we would fall. It was not fun -- and it's scary."

Here are the facts.

Since 2009, there have been 10 bicycle fatalities with cars in metro San Antonio.

Five of those accidents happened in 2012, including one on West Avenue near Churchill High School. That accident killed 55-year-old Devan Smith a month ago.

What's being done to make biking safer?

The San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization said the culture is changing, but not fast enough.

"Is it totally safe to ride a bicycle anywhere, anytime in San Antonio? Of course not," said Scott Ericksen, public involvement coordinator for the MPO, "Is it getting better? Yes it is."

Currently the MPO holds public meetings to educate cyclists and drivers about the rules of the road.
They say biking in San Antonio is exploding, and they're sharing the 2011 master biking plan calling for many more miles of biking lanes and trails.

Right now there are about 342 miles of these bike features.

It's estimated that over the last 30 days more than 300,000 people in Bexar County have ridden a bike.

The MPO is also talking about the recently-passed ordinance requiring motorists to give cyclists a three-foot buffer when passing on a single lane of traffic.

Commercial vehicles must provide six feet when passing a cyclist.

A violation of the ordinance is a $200 fine.

Unfortunately, we've uncovered, that in nearly three years since it was adopted in 2010 the law has only been enforced six times.

There have been no violations this year.

That's shocking, when you consider the 10 fatal bicycle accidents involving cars in nearly the same time frame.

SAPD's Officer Matthew Porter said, "A lot of times these infractions have to happen in front of the officer. If the officer doesn't physically see the violation take place, he's unable to cite that driver for that violation."

San Antonio's mayor says more needs to be done to keep cyclists safe.

"What we've seen lately, the deaths that we've seen -- that's unacceptable," said Mayor Julian Castro. "We can be better than that! We're committed as a city to be better than that!"

In Caban's case the driver was never cited.

She says she's not mad, but determined....determined to see change, determined to walk again.

Before we left the hospital there was a sign of hope. Caban showed us she could slightly move her left foot.

Caban says she will walk again and hopes to one day compete in another triathlon.

She just recently lost her job and has no insurance.

So the cycling community has come together. They're helping her family with food, and raising money to cover her medical expenses.

She says she grateful for the incredible support.

If you'd like to help Monica Caban, visit any Broadway Bank location and ask for the Monica Caban Benefit Fund.

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